A fixture of Cartersville for more than 170 years, Oak Hill Cemetery will be highlighted during Bartow History Museum’s evening lecture Aug. 30.
“It’s significant in that it’s one of our burial grounds currently but it also has a lot of well-known people buried there that had major contributions to our history as well as just ordinary people who played a part in our history,” said Trey Gaines, director of the Bartow History Museum. “We have indications that burials go back as far as 1838 at Oak Hill. There are a lot of early headstones there. The early, early ones, a lot of those are no longer visible. The cemetery originally was the cemetery for the Ebenezer Church. It was a Methodist church here in town, and it was associated with that church for many years.
“Then in the late 1860s, Cartersville adopted the cemetery as the town’s cemetery. [Buried there are] Rebecca Felton who was the first female U.S. senator; Sam Jones who was a well-known Methodist evangelist; Bill Arp, who was an author and humorist, sort of on the lines of Mark Twain. ... And then there’s Civil War officers and soldiers as well as [military personnel] from other wars, politicians and statesmen — just a variety of people who have made contributions to our history.”
Starting at 7 p.m., the lecture will be held at the Bartow History Museum, 4 E. Church St., under the Church Street bridge in Cartersville.
“We hope people will come and learn more about the history of the cemetery,” Gaines said. “It’s got a very interesting and long history. It’s a beautiful place that you can learn a lot from. So we want to talk about the history of the cemetery but also other things you can learn from the cemetery from the headstones.
“You can learn more about [the] symbolism of some of the things you see on the headstones. There’s a lot of genealogy you can glean from stones at times. And [we will share] just why the cemetery itself should be respected and seen as a place to learn more about the area’s history.”
The lecture also will serve as an introduction to the BHM’s ninth annual “An Evening in Oak Hill Cemetery” tour, which will be presented by Parnick Jennings Funeral Home and Cremation Services Oct. 6. During the offering, actors from StageWorks Inc. will portray well-known residents who were buried at the cemetery — at the corner of Erwin Street and Cassville Road — that have connections to the railroad.
To further promote the upcoming tour, StageWorks member Morgan McCrary will deliver a presentation at the lecture, portraying Fannie Gibbons Battle.
“I’ll be playing Fannie Battle and I played her last year in the Civil War-themed tour,” McCrary said. “She was from the Cassville area and ... immediately after the battle at Kennesaw, I think, her [husband to be] and his best man left the front line so that they could have this chaotic, rushed wedding because they wanted to go ahead and get married and they were afraid they’d never get a chance to. So it was all very romantic. And then there were some stories that we found in doing research about her — they said they could hear the artillery in the distance while they were in the middle of the ceremony. So it was very scary for all of them I think.
“Then on the way back to the front line, the best man whose name was Alex, he was wounded and it was a fatal wound. So she was waiting for news of him and of her husband. She didn’t know if he made it back to the front line or even if he would make it back home to her,” she said, adding she has performed in “An Evening in Oak Hill Cemetery” twice. “... [With this tour] I like the fact that [we are portraying] real people, that there is an opportunity for us to sort of dig around and find in the records all of these facts. You find the marriage records and the death records and the newspaper clippings about them and you get such a complete picture of the kind of person that they were, just from those little tidbits. It’s really fascinating how clear they become to you.”
While there is no charge for BHM members to attend the lecture, regular admission costs apply to nonmembers. For more information on this and other BHM programs, call 770-382-3818, ext. 6288 or visit www.bartowhistorymuseum.org.
Starting Aug. 30, the general public will be able to purchase tickets to "An Evening in Oak Hill Cemetery,” with tours departing at 5:30, 6, 6:30, 7 and 7:30 p.m. To obtain tickets, visit the BHM gift shop or call 770-387-2774.